A Clinton School team is working with the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Pulaski County, an organization that assists single parents enrolled in local colleges and technical schools with financial assistance and personal support.
With the goal of helping single parents and their families break the cycle of poverty, SPSF offers scholarship dollars of up to $3,000 per year and unique wraparound services to its recipients. The services range from workshops focused on managing student loan debt and first-time home ownership, to community partnerships offering passes to the Museum of Discovery and tickets to the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre.
Since opening its doors nearly 30 years ago, SPSF has invested over $2M in scholarships to single-parent students in need. More importantly – and uniquely – SPSF’s scholarship recipients can put their dollars toward needs that reach beyond tuition and fees.
“(The scholarship) goes straight to the student,” said Lori Lynch, Executive Director and project supervisor. “They can use the money for childcare, transportation, paying their rent, any of those kinds of things.”
SPSF has a proven track record of success. More than 90 percent of its recipients have earned a degree or are presently working toward that goal. Recipients have gone on to graduate with doctorates and law degrees and pursue countless impactful careers.
The Clinton School team, comprised of Allison Gent (Orange, Va.), Savanna George (Searcy, Ark.), Robert Morris (Jacksonville, Ark.), and Maya Tims (Little Rock, Ark.), has helped the organization build surveys and interviews for alumni and donors of the program. The findings will inform the organization on its approach to recruitment and donor relations, specifically in helping them modernize their marketing and communications pieces.
“Every organization grows and changes, so as we implement new things and we provide different resources for the student, this kind of information will help us better tailor that approach,” Lynch said, noting that this research helps answer important questions. “Are we still meeting our students’ needs? What is a good investment of our resources? And are we being current with our approach?”
The fall semester was spent developing surveys and interviews and the team hit the ground running in January. Early findings show an overwhelmingly positive reaction to SPSF, including a notable appreciation for the organization’s wide range of services. These types of first-person narratives are what SPSF wants and needs.
“They have a lot of different services, like mentor programs, where they can be paired up with someone to talk to about their life or struggles and how they’re getting through school,” Morris said. “And (the students and alumni) love their workshops; there were specific workshops almost everyone talked about.”
The Clinton School team will present its findings and recommendations in April. In addition to basic research, the group has attended external SPSF events like “A Night of Hope” and “Hope Wins,” fundraisers that give them the chance to meet alumni and donors and get an up-close look at the organization’s impact.
“The one thing about this group that stands out to me is they’re so talented. Each of the individuals come with such strong skillsets,” Lynch said. “And the make-up of our team is phenomenal, they really play off each other well.